The National Centre of Addiction Medicine (SÁÁ) has ceased its participation in Íslandsspil. Íslandsspil is one of two parties that have a license to operate electronic gambling machines in Iceland according to Icelandic legislation. SÁÁ’s director states that this step shows that they value compassion over money.
According to Icelandic legislation, gambling is illegal except for a few choice operators, operating within a tight framework. For close to 30 years, Íslandsspil was run by three non-governmental organisations who play a large part in Icelandic society’s infrastructure: SÁÁ, the Icelandic Search-and-rescue Association (ICE-SAR), and the Icelandic Red Cross. While their involvement with slots machines was criticised, the revenue was an important source of income. In particular, the Centre of Addiction Medicine was criticised for benefitting from the slots machines as they offer treatment for gambling addicts.
Director of the National Centre of Addiction Medicine (SÁÁ) Einar Hermannsson stated that exiting the Íslandsspil operation on April 8 allowed SÁÁ to participate in the debate on the morality of slots machines and gambling with the sole goal of representing their wards and helping them get better.
In a post on SÁÁ’s website, Einar states that the decision received a warm response, both in the form of a positive debate but also the more tangible form of increased donations. In the year’s first quarter, donations went up almost 60% compared to the first quarter of 2020. Additionally, a single individual who wishes to remain anonymous donated 10 million ISK to SÁÁ because of their exit from Íslandsspil, writing: “As gambling is a form of addiction, the centre has now made the moral and communal decision to not accept funds originating in slots machines. This means a loss of revenue for the association, something I want to help combat while also honouring the memory of my wife and my own 40-year sobriety.”
Íslandsspil is now run by two non-governmental organisations, the Icelandic Red Cross own 68.75% of the company and Ice-Sar with 31.25%. All proceeds from the operation of the company go to its owners in proportion to their holdings. Íslandspil’s website claims that revenue from Íslandsspil is one of the Red Cross in Iceland’s most important sources of income.